Convenient credit card alerts can warn you when there’s a problem with your account. But if they don’t send an alert, that’s a problem, too.
It’s always a little embarrassing when your credit card gets declined. In a perfect world, if the credit card company had a reason to put a block on your card, they’d tell you. That’s what credit card alerts are supposed to be for.
But sometimes, It rarely happens to me because I always make payments ahead of the due date and don’t go over the credit limit. So when there’s a problem, it’s either a bank issue — like a communications failure — or some weird security thing.
In this case, a credit card got “restricted” because of a question about a $99.99 charge from Microsoft. It’s an annual subscription for Microsoft Office software like Word and Excel.
As their customer service representatives tell it, their fraud department thought there might be something suspicious. For some reason, they conveniently forgot this same charge on this sae date in 2022. And in 2021.
I told the customer service rep I appreciated their security team watching for fraudulent activity. But I also said that if they’re going to suspend my card, I need to be notified immediately.
She then tried to place blame…on me. She told me I needed to set up credit card alerts on my account so that I would receive notification of such issues. That suggestion came after I verified the cell phone number and email address they already had on file.
I told her I’d set up the alerts she suggested, but said it’s ridiculous that they’d actually suspend my card without telling me.
So I did a little checking
I signed back into my credit card management site. I verified that they do, in fact, have the right email address and the right cell phone number for me. That’s under the credit card alerts section of the site. So I’m set up to receive alerts when they have one.
There are about a dozen specific types of alerts I can set up. Options range from “minimum payment due” to “payment received” to “[$x] away from credit limit” and others. They don’t have an alert option for a blocked card. I can’t sign up to receive an alert when the fraud department actually puts a hold on my card.
So I called back and spoke to a supervisor. I explained the situation. He said the alerts should have let me know.
Well, I agreed with him. But they didn’t.
I checked my phone. They sent me an alert asking me if the Microsoft charge was valid. They sent me the same alert the past two years. But when I tried to respond last year, I received an alert that time had expired.
I checked my email. There was an email from them that simply asked me to give them a call.
“We’d like to verify some recent activity on your account,” the email said. It listed the Microsoft purchase. But it did not make any mention of the card being blocked until I called them.
Let’s play what if…
I told the rep I think it’s ridiculous that they wouldn’t notify me that they were blocking my card. What would have happened, I asked, if I’d been on a business trip and broken down on the side of the road? If that was the only credit card and I needed to buy a new tire of have an emergency car repair, the card would have been declined! I could have been stranded in the middle of nowhere.
And that’s all because the fraud department decided to put a hold on my card without telling me.
I got the typical answer. The fraud system does that automatically. That wasn’t the work of a human…it’s a computer that places the hold.
Well, what if the same computer that arbitrarily places the block could also send an alert to my email and phone number that I registered. It seems to me that could be just as automatic a function.
If you’re going to let your computers do your thinking, they should at least be able to figure that much out.
When credit card alerts don’t alert you
The customer service rep assured me he’d send my feedback to the fraud department. I’m sure nothing whatsoever will come from that. After all, if they’re letting the computer decide when a card should be placed on hold, they’re not going to make any effort to intervene. If they wanted to intervene, they wouldn’t have set the computer to handle it for them.
Given that a credit card’s fraud department can just cut off your card without any proper warning, as a customer, you have to make sure you’re prepared.
If you have more than one credit card, you may want to carry at least two. That way, in a similar situation, you’ll have more than one payment method should you find yourself in an emergency.
If your credit card can’t do a better job of warning you when there’s a problem, you’ll have to become a mindreader otherwise.